Minnesota Orchestra finishes year with balanced budget

MinnPost photo by John Whiting
Minnesota Orchestra

Bravo to the Orchestra. This morning’s news, as reported by Graydon Royce in the Star Tribune, is that “Strong fundraising helped the Minnesota Orchestra finish its 2015 season with a balanced budget, according to preliminary figures released Thursday morning. … Contributions of $14.8 million included donations to the Guaranty Fund and the extra gift from Marilyn and Glen Nelson for the historic May trip to Cuba. In addition, proceeds from the Oakleaf Trust pushed the total of contributed income to $18 million. To balance the $30.6 million budget, the orchestra drew 5 percent from its endowment.”

Say, whatever happened with that $1 million “St. Paul Challenge”? For the Pioneer Press, Bob Shaw checks in with winner Tracy Sides: “Two years ago, the idea for a local-food center won $1 million in a contest for the best idea to improve St. Paul. It called for turning an abandoned four-story warehouse into a place to sell, eat and promote locally produced food. It included a cafe, a food truck, a catering center, classrooms and a processing center for local farmers. … But like yesterday’s garden-fresh kale, the idea has wilted. … The would-be home has been demolished. Instead, the headquarters is a community kitchen the size of a 7-Eleven. Out of the million dollars, $825,000 has been spent.”

UCare ain’t the only health insurer upset with the state’s competitive-bid process for public health programs. In the Pioneer Press, David Montgomery reports, “South Country Health Alliance, a county-run program to provide health care to low-income individuals, is suing the Department of Human Services for access to data about DHS’s recent competitive bidding process. … South Country was one of the big losers from Minnesota’s decision to put its Medicaid and MinnesotaCare programs up for statewide competitive bids. It went from being a provider in 11 counties before to just one county after the bidding, which executives with the nonprofit said could put its future in jeopardy. … Department of Human Services officials have refused to release data showing why certain companies won the bids and others didn’t, citing state laws forbidding the release of that information.”

The cherry on top of the fantastic weather we had this summer? Should be a great apple harvest. At MPR, Tom Crann reports, “It’s going to be a bumper crop for apples this year. … Beth Dooley, author of ‘Minnesota’s Bounty: The Farmers Market Cookbook,’ says we’ve had perfect conditions — a relatively cool summer with even temperatures — and the apples are a little early this year.”

In other news…

Minneapolis police officers in Al Flowers complaint: exonerated. [Star Tribune]

Marshall H. Tanick writes a letter to the PiPress noting “The U’s penchant for secrecy” [Pioneer Press]

Crime alert at the U. [KARE]

Palmer’s Bar co-owner Keith Alan Berg has died. [Star Tribune]

Attempted theft against “Rehab Addict” Nicole Curtis in Detroit. [Star Tribune]

Fall colors coming to northern Minnesota. [Minnesota Brown]

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/10/2015 - 04:31 pm.


    I’m not a math whiz, and I stopped trying to balance my checkbook more than 40 years ago – the bank has always been right when a figure was in dispute, so I decided life was too short to spend much time disputing bank figures. I just accept what they give me.

    That said, when I’m budgeting for my own household, having to draw 5% from my painfully-accumulated savings account means I do NOT have “…a balanced budget.” It means I’m 5% into the red, and will have to cut something else next month or year or whatever budgetary period I’m dealing with in order to bring things back up to neutral. The orchestra came *close* to having a balanced budget, perhaps closer than in several recent years, but taking 5% from the endowment is an odd criteria, indeed, for a definition of “balanced.”

    Maybe this failure to understand basic budgetary language explains why the orchestra has been in dire financial straits for the past several years.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/10/2015 - 07:46 pm.

      Dire Straits

      I believe that the orchestra’s financial problems stem from a variety of factors, including a drop in donations during the Recession, and a shrinking audience due partly to the same financial factors and partly to an aging clientele which has not been replaced from the younger generation.
      This is not unique to the MSO — the SPCO has had even more severe problems, as have other American orchestras.
      The desire of musicians to be paid for their work is another factor.

  2. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 09/10/2015 - 05:26 pm.

    Principal vs. interest

    Depends on what your savings earn.
    If your money is actually in a bank savings account (or in CD’s), then you would be taking money out of your principal.
    On the other hand, if your investments included equities (stocks) and assorted bonds, then you might well be earning over 5% and the principal of the endowment would remain intact.
    The finances of a major public organization, like those of government, are not the same as those of the average household. One of the functions of an endowment is to provide a source of income. That is why universities with generous endowments are not dependent on tuition or government funding as their main source of income.

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